The Intangible Necessity

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The Intangible Necessity

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Introduction

It’s the strategic interface between marketing and logistics, it adds value to any given product, yet it’s intangible – what is it? The answer is simple: customer service. “Customer service has been an issue since the early 1970’s” (Cavinato 60). Though it’s long been considered an issue, it’s important to remember that there isn’t one set formula to developing customer service, it’s more of a mindset (Cavinato 61).

Customer service is usually only considered between retailers and end users; however, customer service is the “fuel that drives the logistics supply chain engine” (Coyle 92). It’s important for logistics companies to look at customer service from all aspects, since it is one way that companies can have a distinctive competitive advantage over competitors.

This essay will discuss customer service in two parts, by explaining customer service in terms of its definition and the elements that comprise it and how customer service is applied in the logistics world.

What is Customer Service?

Definition

One author defines customer service as “a process for providing competitive advantage and adding benefits to the supply chain in order to maximize the total value to the ultimate customer” (Coyle 96). It’s difficult to specifically define customer service because it incorporates several different areas; however, it can be narrowed down to something that a company provides to the end users of its products (Coyle 95).

Customer service is important in all areas of a business, upstream to the suppliers of the raw materials and downstream to the end users. Customer service can be viewed in three standard ways: as an activity, as a performance measure, and as a philosophy (Coyle 96).

Activity

Customer service at this first level is very common. It’s the “particular task that a firm must accomplish to satisfy the customer’s needs” (Coyle 96). An example at this level would be a customer at a department store voicing a complaint to the “customer service” desk. The employees at the store must listen and attempt to correct the customer’s problem. The manner in which the employee or the store corrects the problem reflects on the company’s customer service. At the logistics level, it’s merely a transaction (Coyle 96). It’s the communication between the person placing the order and the company’s representative on the other end.
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